Duo brings ‘huge sound’ to Prince Albert
You never know what you’ll hear over the speakers when Andrew Sneddon and Matthew Hornell start travelling together.
On some days it’s Fred Eaglesmith and Corb Lund. On others it’s classical music and bebop jazz.
The mix of artists and genres extends to their show, where you’re just as likely to hear an east coast Celtic folk tune as a prairie bluegrass ballad. The song selection echoes the duo’s common theme: just play good music.
“I think it’s the flavour,” Hornell says when asked why the duo has been so successful. “We’re mixing in all of the things that we like: country, folk songs, songs we wrote, instrumentals … our mandate is just to play good music that we enjoy.”
While enjoyable, playing what you like requires a lot of flexibility. In their six years together, Sneddon and Hornell have mastered the art of improvisation. It’s helped keep their show fresh, and each musician on his toes.
“It’s a great musical relationship,” Sneddon explains. “Working in a duo situation like that offers you a lot of leeway in live settings to experiment and try different things.”
Then he chuckles.
“If something happens, you don’t have a whole band that’s going to come to a crashing halt.”
Although they’re touring the prairies as a duo, both Hornell and Sneddon got their start playing together in a band in Halifax.
They met after Hornell, who has roots in Swift Current and St. John’s, Newfoundland, hired a friend of Sneddon’s to play as a backup musician for a gig in Nova Scotia. Sneddon himself joined them shortly after.
Eventually the group became a twoman show with a new album called “Appearing Live.” The tracks came solely from performances in Halifax and St. John’s, as well as a live session with friends from the Toronto-based bluegrass band “Unseen Strangers.”
Although both performers maintain a few other musical side projects, travelling and working together is the most time-consuming, and rewarding, part of their careers.
“We became good friends, so being able to travel, work and perform with your friends makes it much better,” Sneddon says. “Sometimes it’s worse, but in the long run it’s a lot better. Matthew’s a great singer, a great guitar player and a great songwriter. He’s generally a great artist, and our musical ideas fit together.”
“Every time we play … people are like, ‘there’s just two of you and it sounds huge,’” Hornell adds with a laugh. “The road can be taxing, but when you’re doing it with someone you don’t mind being around and you’ve got a history with, it can be fun.”
After stops in Regina, Saskatoon, La Ronge, Weyburn and Big River, the musical duo heads to Prince Albert for the eighth day of a four-week prairie tour. It’s an exciting moment for both singers, who enjoy the travelling and interaction with music lovers across the country.
“The people in Saskatchewan remind me so much of the people in Newfoundland,” Hornell says. “Whether it’s the reliance on the land or the community mindset, everybody kind of gets by together.”
The journey even occasionally provides source material for songs of their own.
“The funny thing about inspiration is it can come from anywhere and everywhere,” Sneddon says. “We travel a lot, so we get a lot.”
Hornell and Sneddon perform on Oct. 28 at the Rock Trout Café. The show starts at 8 p.m. The opening act is local musician Gord Vadelaand performing with his son, Jake.
East coast musical duo Andrew Sneddon (left) and Matthew Hornell (right) have a love for almost every genre of music, and that love comes out in their show.